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Surrey teacher shortlisted for $1 million ‘Nobel Prize’ of teaching

The-Global-Teacher-Award-brand-mark-by-Neon.pngA Surrey teacher has made the shortlist for the Global Teacher Prize award, rising above thousands of applicants being considered for the ‘Nobel Prize’ of teaching.

Annie Ohana, a teacher at L.A. Matheson Secondary was announced as one of top 50 finalists for the prestigious award, which is valued at $1 million USD.

The Global Teacher Prize was founded in 2011 by the Varkey Foundation in collaboration with UNESCO to celebrate and recognize exceptional contributions to the profession of teaching.

Each year, thousands of teachers are nominated and those who make it through the initial evaluation are invited to submit applications. From there, the field is gradually narrowed to the top 50 finalists, which are then whittled down to 10 in the final stage of the adjudication process.

“It was a surprise, I first found out I was nominated in May, but to make it to the final 50 was really something,” said Ohana, who is the only Canadian in the top 50.

Known for her work in equity, humanities and social sciences, Ohana is the founder of L.A. Matheson’s award-winning Mustang Justice program, which is dedicated to progressing social justice and social responsibility initiatives in the community.

“These kinds of accolades matter because this is an international adjudication panel and they're looking at everything I do with a fine tooth comb,” she said. “As teachers, we pour our heart and soul into this profession, so it helps put all of that work into perspective.”

If she is named to the final 10, Ohana will be flown to Paris in November to attend an awards ceremony where the winner will be announced. If she were to win the $1-million prize, which is paid out in $100,000 instalments over 10 years, Ohana said she would explore the creation of a self-sustaining Mustang Justice scholarship fund, among other initiatives.

“We do work across so many communities and so one of the goals would be to ensure there’s a continual source of funds for the long-term future of these programs,” she explained.

Regardless of where she places, Ohana said it’s been an honour just to be recognized this far into the process and have her work highlighted alongside so many accomplished teachers from across the globe.
“Some of the other teachers are veterans that have been teaching for decades, so there’s definitely a lot of great educators in that group,” she noted. “But at the end of the day I’ll use whatever platform I can, and the work continues no matter what.”

To learn more about Ohana and her work, click here to see her Global Teacher Prize profile.

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